Management & Operations

First Transit acquires Coach USA transit services

Posted on July 1, 2003

First Transit Inc., a subsidiary of FirstGroup America Inc., completed the acquisition of the American operations of Coach USA Transit Services for $22.5 million. The transaction adds more than 1,300 vehicles and nearly 2,000 new employees at more than 30 locations. “We were originally approached by Coach USA in late December 2002 about a possible transaction,” said Rich Clair, president of First Transit. One of the main things that needed to happen during the transition period, Clair said, was “to make sure that the employees knew we wanted them and to get them hired.” Other important considerations during this phase included assigning of contracts from Coach USA’s customers and making sure vendors continued to do business with First Transit, he said. “I am exceptionally pleased at how smoothly the transition has gone. While we had some inevitable slips along the way, they were few in number and addressed quickly,” Clair said. Integration of the two companies involved a mentoring program where Coach management, regional vice presidents and support staff met with First Transit staff at Coach USA’s head office in Horseheads, N.Y., for training. General managers from both Coach USA and First Transit were linked up as a support system. These managers then met once a week with their assigned mentor for additional support and training. “Certain things that they do in terms of reinforcing value to their customers are things that we want to bring over to our side of the business,” Clair said of Coach USA’s operations. “They had a lot of circles of excellence in their business that we are going to be learning from, and making company-wide.” The acquisition added 59 new customers to First Transit’s portfolio, and more than $90 million in annual revenue. The company operations will now expand into Florida, Pennsylvania, Washington and Puerto Rico. Significant expansion also occurred in First Transit’s current locations, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, New York and North and South Carolina.

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